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Vegan Superfood Muffins with Dried Blueberries & Hempseeds

Posted Aug 23 2009 6:31am

I'm just fine with August coming to an end.

The 100+ temps have my entire household climbing the walls; Nick and I look like bubonic plague victims with our copious mosquito-bite scabs; and my hair is turning green from the daily trips to the pool. I'm not feeling my prettiest.

But I am feeling smart. And satisfied. Blame it on my recent bouts of vegan baking.
My ventures into vegan baking waters have been rare until now; only the occasional toe-dip. I'm confident in whipping together traditional muffins, cakes and cookies--just show me the eggs, butter, sugar, and all-purpose flour, and I'm ready to wield my spoon; take them away, and I flounder.

But that's changing, rapidly. There's nothing like plunging in headfirst (let that be the last of my swimming analogies today...) to learn the most. So, equipped with several tomes on the subject, I've been distracting myself from the heat by baking up a vegan storm. And I'm happy to share one of my favorite successes, my vegan superfood muffins.

These little treats are loaded with superfoods. But most importantly, they are delicious. Both Nick and Kevin loved them (I didn't tell Kevin they were vegan, though; he is highly prejudiced of anything and everything with a vegan label).

My two favorite ingredients in these muffins are the hemp seeds and the roasted walnut oil. You can find the hemp seeds at health food stores, well-stocked supermarkets, and online, and the walnut oil is increasingly available at grocery stores, too, stocked with the olive oil and canola oil (they have it at my local store, and this is a small Texas town; it's likely at your store, too).

The hemp seeds contribute a delicious nutty flavor, and their nutritional profile is remarkable: high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids and rich in iron, vitamin E, and GLA (gamma-linolenic acid. The walnut oil deepens the nutty flavor of these muffins, and like the hemp seeds, is high in omega-3 fatty acids. In a pinch, though, you can use chopped toasted walnuts in place of the hemp seeds and any neutral vegetable oil in place of the walnut oil.

A quick note about the spinach: it may seem a bizarre addition to a sweet muffin, but you neither see it nor taste it. I got the idea from my smoothies: I've been adding a couple of heaping handfuls to my berry smoothies for more than a decade; it's an easy way to add the benefits of the greens without any change to the taste, texture, or appearance of the smoothie. I blended the fresh leaves in the same way for these muffins and it worked like a charm. Happy Baking!

Vegan Superfood Muffins with Dried Blueberries & Hempseeds

You need not be on any special diet to love these muffins; they are delicious, regardless. Consider the superfood ingredients a stealthy bonus. The superfood stars here are: (1) the wheat bran and whole wheat flour (fiber), flax (fiber, lignans and omega-3s), the dried blueberries (antioxidants), hemp seeds (protein, omega-3s), bananas (potassium and fiber), spinach (vitamins A, E, & C, folate, magnesium & more), yogurt (calcium, protein, potassium & more) or soy (protein, omega-3s, and more).

1 and 1/4 cups wheat bran (I use Bob’s Red Mill Miller's Wheat Bran)
1 and 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur brand)
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (flaxseed meal)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sucanat OR packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup dried blueberries (or dried cherries or cranberries)
1/2 cup shelled hemp seeds
3 tablespoons roasted walnut oil OR vegetable oil
1 and 1/3 cups plain soy yogurt (or plain lowfat yogurt, if you are not vegan)
1 large very ripe banana, peeled and broken apart
2-3 heaping handfuls of fresh spinach (I use pre-washed bagged spinach leaves)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line the cups of a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk the bran, flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and brown sugar until blended; stir in the dried blueberries & hempseeds.

Place the oil, yogurt , banana, and chopped spinach into the blender. Blend at medium speed until smooth, then pour over the dry ingredients. Stir gently just until moistened.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cups. Bake for about 18-20 minutes until just set. Cool. Makes 12 muffins.
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